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Evil Queen (Disney)

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Evil Queen
Disney's Hollywood Studios' artwork Reflection of Evil[1] showing the character in both of her forms from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
First appearance Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Created by Walt Disney and Joe Grant (design)
Art Babbit (animation)
Brothers Grimm (original fairy tale)
Portrayed by Anne Francine (musical)
Jane Curtin (50th anniversary TV special)
Various (World on Ice)
Olivia Wilde (Disney Dream Portraits photographs)[2][3]
Lana Parrilla (Once Upon a Time)
Kathy Najimy (Descendants)
Voiced by Lucille La Verne (original film)
Eleanor Audley (1949 audiobook)
Eda Reiss Merin (1990 audiobook)
Louise Chamis (Fantasmic!, Disney on Ice, Disney's Villains' Revenge)
Susanne Blakeslee (Share A Dream Come True Parade, House of Mouse, Once Upon a Halloween, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep)
Aliases Evil Queen, Wicked Queen, Queen Grimhilde, Witch, Wicked Witch, Old Witch, Witch Queen, Queen-witch,[4] Queen of Darkness (Once Upon a Time), Old Hag,[5] Snow White's stepmother
Species Human
Gender Female
Occupation Sorceress/witch
Queen dowager/regnant
Spouse(s) The King (deceased)
Children Snow White (stepdaughter)
Evie (daughter; in Descendants only)
Henry Mills (adopted son; in Once Upon a Time only)

The Evil Queen, also known as the Wicked Queen or just the Queen, and sometimes instead identified by her given name as Queen Grimhilde, is the primary antagonist in Disney's 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She is based on the Evil Queen character from the European fairy tale "Snow White".

In the film, similar to the Brothers Grimm story, the Evil Queen is cold, cruel, and extremely vain, and obsessively desires to remain the "fairest in the land". She becomes madly envious over the beauty of her stepdaughter, Princess Snow White, as well as the attentions of the Prince from another land; such love triangle element is one of Disney's changes to the story. This leads her to plot the death of Snow White and ultimately on the path to her own demise, which in the film is indirectly caused by the Seven Dwarfs. The film's version of the Queen character uses her dark magic powers to actually transform herself into an old woman instead of just taking a disguise like in the Grimms' story; this appearance of hers is commonly referred to as the Wicked Witch or alternatively as the Old Hag or just the Witch.

The film's version of the Queen was created by Walt Disney and Joe Grant, and originally animated by Art Babbit and voiced by Lucille La Verne. Inspiration for her design came from several sources, including the characters of Queen Hash-a-Motep from She and Princess Kriemhild from Die Nibelungen, as well as actresses such as Joan Crawford and Gale Sondergaard. The Queen has since been voiced by Eleanor Audley, Eda Reiss Merin, Louise Chamis and Susanne Blakeslee, and was portrayed live by Anne Francine, Jane Curtin and Olivia Wilde, and in alternative versions, by Lana Parrilla (Once Upon a Time) and Kathy Najimy (Descendants).

This interpretation of the classic fairy tale character has been very well received by film critics and general public, often being considered one of Disney's most iconic and menacing villains. Besides in the film, the Evil Queen has made numerous appearances in Disney attractions and productions, including not only these directly related to the tale of Snow White, such as Fantasmic!, The Kingdom Keepers and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, sometimes appearing in them alongside Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. The film's version of the Queen has also become a popular archetype that influenced a number of artists and non-Disney works.

In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs[edit]


The Queen in her secret lair in an illustration by the Brothers Hildebrandt

In "another land, far away,"[6] "many, many years ago," about the time of fairy tales of castles, knights, fair maidens, romance, magic and witches,"[7] a mysterious and icily beautiful woman with magical powers has gained her royal position by marrying the widowed King, giving her power over his kingdom before he died. She became obsessively jealous of the young Snow White's emerging beauty, therefore turning her into a scullery maid in her own home. The vain Queen owned a magical mirror with which she could look upon whatever she wished. The Magic Mirror shows a haunted, smoky face which replies to the Queen's requests. She regularly asks the mirror who is the fairest in the realm ("Magic Mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"[8]), and the mirror always replies that she is.

One day, the mirror tells her that there is a new fairest woman in the land, her 14-year-old[9] stepdaughter, Princess Snow White. After observing the handsome Prince from another kingdom singing a love song to Snow White, the proud Queen, in a jealous rage, commands her faithful Huntsman, Humbert, to take the princess deep into the forest and kill her. He is ordered to bring back her heart in a box to prove that he had done so. Humbert cannot bear to kill the young princess, so he tells Snow White of the Queen's plot and tells her to run away and never to come back. To escape the penalty, he comes back with a pig's heart and gives it to the Queen. When she questions her mirror, it again replies that Snow White is the fairest in the land, and that she is living at the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs, revealing that the box contains the heart of a pig. The Dwarfs are fearful of the Queen's black magic but decide to take in Snow White anyway.

The Witch (right) offering a poisoned apple to Snow White in Gustaf Tenggren's inspirational art for the film

Furious that Humbert tricked her, the Queen decides that Snow White shall die by her own hand. She goes down the dungeon to her secret room where she practices her dark magic, complete with a raven pet that "knows all her secrets,"[10] and in desperation uses her spellbook and cauldron to mix a potion that transforms her into a hag. Her beauty is shrouded in ugliness and age, though presumably reversible.[11] She then conjures a poison apple, which will cause "the Sleeping Death",[12] and proceeds to leave the castle. She is sure that no one would know or perform the counter-curse to her spell, and believes the Dwarfs would bury her rival alive, thinking her dead. The Queen comes to the cottage, followed by two vicious vultures, and finds Snow White baking a pie for Grumpy the dwarf. Somehow Snow White's animal friends realize that the old hag is the Queen. After an unsuccessful attempt to warn Snow White by attacking the Queen, they go to warn the Dwarfs of the Queen's arrival. The Queen tricks Snow White into letting her inside the cottage and eating the bewitched apple, telling her that it is a magic wishing apple. Snow White takes a bite and falls to the floor, apparently dead.

The Queen rejoices in her victory, but is soon discovered by the angry Seven Dwarfs, who grab pickaxes and chase her deep into the forest as a great storm begins. She climbs up into the mountains, where she gets trapped upon a precipice that overlooks a seemingly bottomless canyon. She attempts to push down a large boulder to crush the approaching Dwarfs. Just then a lightning bolt strikes between her and the boulder, destroying the precipice and sending the Queen (along with the boulder) down the cliff to her doom, screaming while she falls to the jagged rocks below. As the Dwarfs look wide-eyed over the cliff's edge, they cannot see her, but the vultures descend into the chasm. Her castle is then taken over by the Prince and the revived Snow White.

Conception, design and portrayal[edit]

Early concepts for the film called for a "fat, batty, cartoon type, self-satisfied" Queen. However, Walt Disney became concerned that such an approach would make the character seem less plausible. Sensing that more time was needed for the development of the Queen, he advised that attention be paid exclusively to "scenes in which only Snow White, the Dwarfs, and their bird and animal friends appear."[13] Disney further developed the story himself, finding a dilemma in the characterization of the Queen, whom he envisioned as a mixture of Lady Macbeth and the Big Bad Wolf,[14][15] and decided to set on "a high collar stately beautiful type"[16] whose "beauty is sinister, mature, plenty of curves – she becomes ugly and menacing when scheming."[9] According to the 1993 Disney Classics series of trading cards, "she is really two characters, the beautiful evil Queen and the grotesquely evil witch."

Joan Crawford c. 1930

The Queen's appearance was inspired by the "ageless ice goddess"[17] character of Queen Ayesha ("She who must be obeyed") from the 1935 film She, played by Helen Gahagan.[18][19] The Queen was originally to be named Grimhilde[9] (but who is never actually named in the film[20]), was also modeled in part on Princess Kriemhild in the 1924 film Die Nibelungen.[21] It is also possible that the Queen's looks may have been inspired by the faces of Joan Crawford[22] and Gale Sondergaard,[23] and her costume and general silhouette may have been inspired by a column statue at the Naumburg Cathedral depicting Uta von Ballenstedt, the wife of Eckard II, Margrave of Meissen who was widely regarded as the most beautiful woman of Medieval Germany.[24][25] Also noted was her resemblance to two 1930s American movie stars from Europe, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.[26]

The Queen and Snow White were refined by Grim Natwick and Norm Ferguson, who would often override Walt Disney's instructions.[27] As in the case of other characters for the film, the Queen's appearance had to be approved by Albert Hurter before being finalised.[13] The Queen is clad mostly in black and other "negative" dark colors, providing a contrast to Snow White's bright colorful wardrobe.[28] One pre-final version of the queen had her wear a looser hood and a different crown and the edge of her cape was fur trimmed, as it can be seen in Gustaf Tenggren's pictures featured in press books and other promotional materials.

None of Art Babbit's lead animation work on the character was rotoscoped[29][30] and the animators were noted to prefer to draw the Queen over Snow White "because she was more real and complex as a woman, more erotic, and driven to desperate acts by her magic mirror."[31] Notably, the Queen was the first character to ever speak in an animated feature film.[32] She was voiced by Lucille La Verne, who achieved her voice change for the role of the Witch by removing her false teeth.[33] Joe Grant, who contributed the design for her Witch form,[34] noticed La Verne's changing attitude and posture when voicing the Queen and Witch, and sketched these poses down for animation reference. He also said he based the Witch's concept art on a woman who lived across the street from him.[35] The character's foreign dubbing voice actresses included Jiřina Petrovická in Czechoslovakia, Clara Pontoppidan, Kirsten Rolffes, Lise Ringheim in Denmark, Rauni Luoma and Seela Sella in Finland, Claude Gensac in France, Dagny Servaes in Germany, Ilus Vay in Hungary, Tina Lattanzi and Dina Romano in Italy, Tanie Kitabayashi in Japan, Blanca de Castejón and Cristina Montt in Mexico, Zinaida Sharko in Russia, and Helena Brodin, Hjördis Petterson and Lil Terselius in Sweden.

The Queen's castle might have been inspired by Spain's Alcázar of Segovia[36][37][38] and the throne she is uses has a peacock motif to symbolise her extreme vanity.[39] According to a description in her card in the Disney Villains set, "the Witch's ugliness symbolises the evil disguised by the Queen's beauty." She was the first character to meet death in a Disney feature.[40] As part of elimination of more gruesome aspects, the wicked queen's death was made "just as certain but more merciful" than her end in the original story, where she is forced to dance to her death in red-hot iron shoes on her feet.[41] Her fate is suggested rather than shown,[42] but a 1936 pre-release Good Housekeeping novelization by Dorothy Ann Blank, a member of the Disney story team for the film, affirms that the Queen in fact dies in the fall and states that "no magic would ever bring her to life again."[43] One of the Queen's animators was Ward Kimball, whom Walt Disney also let to draw the two vultures watching her fall "to make it a little easier" for him, as Kimball has been reassigned after his own sequence was cut from the film.[44]

During an auction in 1988, an animation cel from the iconic scene of the Queen holding her heart box sold for a record-setting price of $30,000.[45] In 1997, another cel from the same scene sold for $21,275 and a cel of the Witch offering an apple to Snow White realized $13,800.[46] Another cel showing the Queen reading her spellbook sold for $8,050 in an earlier in auction in 1995.[47]

Abandoned concepts[edit]

The original outline of the story featured the Queen's attempt to kill Snow White with a poisoned comb, an element taken from the Grimms' version of the tale (the Dwarfs would arrive in time to remove it). The envious Queen would also decide to take possession of Snow White's handsome and young suitor, the 18-year-old[9] Prince (described in a press kit as "every woman's dream man"),[48] for herself, offering him an opportunity to share the throne with her through a marriage.[49][50] With the Prince refusing to marry her, the Queen would have him captured by her guards and taken to her dungeon to be suspended in chains in a torture chamber.[51] She would later visit him there and used her sorcery to taunt him by bringing the dungeon's skeletons (also chained to the walls) to life and making them dance, identifying one skeleton as "Prince Oswald",[9] only for the Prince to defy her again. She then has him given to the torturers, described as "the Nubians",[52] and "exits with a dirty laugh."[53]

A gargoyle ornament in the Queen's dungeon in Snow White's Scary Adventures

According to production story-meeting notes from October 1934, "Queen wants to marry Prince, but he refuses to acknowledge 'that she is the fairest in the land,' since he has seen Snow White."[54] It is written in story notes that the Queen has magical power only over her own domain, which is the castle.[52] Another note states about their meeting in the dungeon: "This is a sequence of gruesome comedy — of dancing skeletons — fantastic shadows — witchcraft and deviltry."[55] The name Prince Oswald was an inside joke reference to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.[50] The Queen was originally intended to have pet panthers; a concept art of the Queen walking a black panther can be seen in The Walt Disney Family Museum and at Disney California Adventure.

The books Snow White: Magic Mirror Book and The Complete Story of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs reveal that the Huntsman was afraid to disobey a command to kill Snow White because the Queen's might feed him to her panthers or shrink him magically "to the size of a walnut".[49][56] In one version, the Huntsman would also be dragged to the dungeon when the Queen finds out that he has betrayed her,[49] and the Queen might smash her own Mirror in anger.[50][57] Later, after transforming herself, she decides to punish the Prince for having scorned her. She informs the Prince of her plan to have the Dwarfs bury Snow White alive and then leaves him to his death, still chained and trapped in a subterranean chamber filling with water[34] to slowly drown. She then makes her way to the Dwarfs' cottage with the poisoned apple, while birds and forest animals were to help the Prince escape the Queen's minions and find his horse as would race to try and save Snow White.[58][59]

This plotline described above was not used in the final film, although it was carried out to the drawing and cel stage,[60] and several inspirational sketch pictures of the dungeon scenes were drawn by Ferdinand Hovarth. It is said that Disney "knew that the Queen would have to look scary without being too scary."[14] Some skeletons are briefly featured in the finished film in the other parts of the dungeon,[61] except in Australia's censored original theatrical release version.[62] Similar motifs and scenes were later used in Disney's Sleeping Beauty[59] and Aladdin. Elements of this sub-plot have also made their way into some other Disney's Snow White fiction and tourist attractions.

Other appearances[edit]


The Queen's castle at Fantasyland

The Queen is a primary character in the Disneyland rides Snow White's Scary Adventures (first opened in 1955), where she is seen more than any other character in all four versions of the ride, recreating a number of scenes from the film, sometimes including the torture chamber from an abandoned concept, with "a few skeletons of her past victims."[63] In one new scene, she turns into a hag while standing in front of the mirror (back to the visitors) and intoning: "Magic Mirror on the wall, with this disguise I'll fool them all!"[64] She also appears in her hag form at the roller coaster Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, first opened in 2014.[65]

The Evil Queen with the wizard Jafar from Aladdin during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2012
The Queen in her lair with magic books and a figure of the demon Chernabog from Fantasia at Share A Dream Come True Parade in 2008

In the The Disney Villains Mix and Mingle and Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade shows during Magic Kingdom's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Queen is one of the villains led by Maleficent that appear during the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage. Susanne Blakeslee voiced the Queen at 2001's Share A Dream Come True Parade, where she could be seen transform herself into a hag.[66] The Wicked Queen is one of the "favourite" villains included in Magic Kingdom Park's special pre-parade procession "It's Good to be Bad" a night before the annual Main Street Electrical Parade.[67] One event featured a giant interactive mirror and included the Wicked Queen and two other "Divas of Evil", Maleficent and Cruella de Vil.[68] She also prominently appears at Villains Unleashed party,[69][70] a separately ticketed event at Disney's Hollywood Studios that was introduced in 2014.[71]

In the interactive gallery Walt Disney: One Man's Dream, the Queen appears alongside Maleficent and Judge Frollo in the villains' act of the show, where she seems to be the leader of the trio. On the cruise ship Disney Fantasy, the Queen, appearing with her raven, is one of the seven supects (and sometimes the culprit)[72] in the interactive gallery Midship Detective Agency's story "The Case of The Plundered Paintings".


The novel Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino, published by Disney Press in 2009,[73] tells a story much more sympathetic to the Queen than most other Disney media. The book shows how the Queen became the villain from the film, much in the style of The Killing Joke, with the Magic Mirror, here possessed by the spirit of her abusive father, having been a corrupting influence. According to the book, her mother was a witch and the King died in a war against another kingdom prior to the events of the film. After her husband's death, the Queen slowly descends into madness. By the end of novel, Snow White gets the mirror and the Queen becomes the spirit inside the mirror after her death in the film.

The Queen is one of the Overtakers, villains of The Kingdom Keepers novel series. She was introduced in 2011 in the fourth book of the saga, Power Play, alongside Cruella De Vil. Like Maleficent, she is very powerful and is able to cast almost any spell with a flick of her finger; she can also transform herself and other characters. In Power Play, when Maleficent and Chernabog are captured by the Keepers, the Queen becomes the new leader of the Overtakers.

Jim Razzi's 1985 children's gamebook Snow White in the Enchanted Forest (Choose Your Own Adventure: Walt Disney #1) features the Prince-like character's confrontations with evil Queen as she is searching for Snow White, who is hiding with the Dwarfs, to "put an end to her, once and for all!"[74] In it, she has much greater powers than in the film, including being able to instantly change between her hag and queen forms at will,[75] magically disappear,[76] change herself into an animal and back, and turn others into animals with magic beams.[77] Jeff Kurtti's 2005 book Disney Villains: The Top Secret Files ranks her as "the greatest villain of them all".

One chapter in Todd Strasser's 1993 Disney's the Villains Collection/Stories from the Films is dedicated to Snow White and the Queen. She is also a subject of one of the books in the Disney Princess series My Side of the Story, titled Snow White/The Queen (2004), which portrays her as a misunderstood positive character.[78]


The 1937–38 film tie-in serial comic strip "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was written by Merrill De Maris, one of the writers of the film. The comic further explores the source of the Queen's descent into a murderous envy, as she learns that the Prince came to her castle seeking the most beautiful woman in all the world and is shocked when he says he meant Snow White. Like in the abandoned film concept, the Queen (here actually named Grimhilde) has the Prince arrested. In her Witch form, she later tells the captive Prince that she is going to get rid of Snow White and make him hers, while the Prince is defiant and calls her a "miserable hag".[9] This scene is followed by his escape from prison, in much less dramatic circumstances than the film's drowning concept.[79] The film was also adapted into other comics, such as by Carl Fallberg and Richard Moore in 1983,[80] and by Régis Maine and Santiago Barreira in 1993.[81] In one American 1944 sequel comic, the dead Queen's castle is taken over by her bother, the Wicked Prince.[82]

The Queen has made frequent appearances[83] in various other Disney comics, where, under the alias the Witch, she comes back to antagonize Disney characters like Chip 'n Dale and Tinkerbell, occasionally cooperating with protagonistic characters. Notable examples of such appearances include the 1948 Four Color comic book story "The Golden Christmas Tree" with Donald Duck, the 1949 Four Color comic book Walt Disney's Seven Dwarfs, and the 1958 stand-alone booklet Mystery of the Missing Magic. In the story "A Pirate's Tale", the greedy Witch transforms herself into a rat and Dopey destroys her with a cat.[84] In the 1966 Walt Disney's Comics and Stories parody of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, "The Wizard of Bahs", the Witch is unexpectedly turned into an old tree trunk by Daisy Duck while her castle turns to sand. In the 1958 comic strip "The Seven Dwarfs and the Witch-Queen", written by Floyd Gottfredson, the Witch shrinks all the dwarfs except of Dopey who manages to save his brothers.[85]

Many of these stories have been first published in Italian Disney digest comic series,[86] in particular in Topolino, "The Seven Dwarfs and the Spell of the Queen" (I Sette Nani e l'incantesimo della regina, 1961),[87] "Snow White and the Castle of Four Winds" (Biancaneve al castello dei quattro venti, 1961),[88] "The Seven Dwarfs and the Heroic Antieve" (I Sette Nani e l'eroica antivigilia, 1962),[89] "The Seven Dwarfs and the Brew of Seven Herbs" (I Sette Nani e l'infuso delle sette erbe, 1963),[90] "Snow White and the Silver Rose" (Biancaneve e la rosa d'argento, 1964),[91] and "The Seven Dwarfs and the Joker Wizard" (I Sette Nani e il mago burlone, 1967),[92] among others. For instance, "Snow White and the Shattered Mirror" (Biancaneve e lo specchio infranto, 1956),[93] has the old Witch, terminally ill, discover she has only one day to live, but she refuses to accept her destiny and finds a way to conquer death. In 1956's "Goofy the Magician and the Seven Dwarfs" (Pippo mago e i Sette Nani),[94] the Queen's four goon henchmen attack the dwarfs and steal their treasure but then decide to keep it for themslelves and Grimhilde seeks help from the wizard Abracadabro to stop their run; eventually, it is the Prince who defeats the robbers. 1967's "Donald Fracasse: (Paperin Fracassa) is a parody of the adventure film Captain Fracasse in which Snow White is blinded by the Queen and Donald Duck needs to heal her. In 1989's "The Seven Dwarfs and Christmas in Danger" (I Sette Nani e il Natale in pericolo)[95] the Queen goes to steal a comet stardust as the last ingredient for her spell to destroy Snow White. In 1990's "The Seven Dwarfs and the Covenant of the Queen" (I Sette Nani e il patto della regina),[96] she conjures the demon Shadow Lord Oren and makes a pact with him to take the soul of Snow White. She once again attempts to eliminate Snow White with the help of seven evil dwarfs, but in doing so she burns ends up burning all of her vital energy and Oren takes her with him.[97] 1992's "The Seven Dwarfs and the Christmas Fairy" (I Sette Nani e la fatina di Natale) presents a scenario in which the Queen successfully casts a forever-sleep enchantement on Snow White, but while trying to zap Dopey she accidentally falls victim of her own witchcraft and the Christmas fairy, freed from her prison, saves Snow White.[98][99]

Many of the Topolino Snow White comics were the works of Romano Scarpa. His 1986 comic "The Seven Dwarfs and King Arbor's Crystal" (I Sette Nani e il cristallo di Re Arbor) provides explanation how the Queen would have survived her apparent death in the film (as some branches and bushes eased the fall and she was rescued by her loyal guards) and why she could not change back to her normal self (as her castle was burned down by the Huntsman and her book of magic is gone). In this story, Grimhilde (Grimilde) enlists the aid of her great admirer and past suitor, the evil King Arbor of Vegetalia, in a plot to use a magic crystal device to swap her old body with Snow White's.[100][101] The intrigue is foiled by the dwarves who destroy the crystal, and the resigned Arbor allows the Witch to live with her, saying he will try to remember she was "the most beautiful among queens". The uneasy relationship between Grimhilde and Abor continued in the comic "The Seven Dwarfs and the Fountainhead" (I Sette nani e la fonte meravigliosa), published later that same year.[102][103] In it, she desperately attempts to regain her youth, but instead only turns into a childlike version of her Witch form for a short time.

Other comics by Romano Scarpa have the Queen in her youthful form.[104] In 1953's three-part "Snow White and the Green Flame" (Biancaneve e verde fiamma),[105][106][107][108] the Queen flies on a broom to the great gathering of witches, who declare that her inability to deal with just a little girl and few dwarfs has disgraced them all and she should be punished for this according to the laws of Hell. The Queen begs the High Witch for mercy and is given a magic wand with the power of transformation, but if she would not succeed this time she will be turned into a magic broom for a more "honorable" witch to fly. The Queen uses the wand to gain trust of Snow White and turn her a figurine, than takes the princess' form to ambush the dwarfs and do the same with them. Only Dopey escapes and eventually manages to outwit the Queen, restoring his friends and transforming her into a figurine, which then turns into a broom when her sentence is carried over. In 1957's "The Seven Dwarfs and the Throne of Diamonds" (I Sette Nani e il trono di diamanti),[109] Jiminy Cricket is deeply enamored by the Queen's beauty and attempts to convince her to become good, but the Queen refuses to be redeemed and orders her soldiers to steal the throne the Dwarfs make for Snow White in a plot to turn her rival into an old woman. 1959's "Snow White and the Chained Fairy" (I Sette Nani e la fata incatenata),[110] sees the dwarfs struggle to free the fairy Fawn who was captured by the Queen in an underground cavern for saving Snow White when Grimhilde flew to striks down the princess with a thunderbolt. She takes on many forms trying to thwart them in various ways, and one-by-one the dwarfs sacrifice their lives, until only Dopey remains but he manages to get hold of magical water that brings back all of them to life. The freed fairy's magic makes the cavern collapse down on the helpless Queen to make sure she will never hurt anyone again. In 1960's "The Seven Dwarfs and the Birtch Ring" (I Sette Nani e l'anello di betulla by Romano Scarpa),[111] the Queen learns about the eight Dwarf named Ginger (Zenzero), who has left the his companions to go in search of fortune traveling the world, and transforms into a pixie named Fagottina to send him home and sow discord among his brothers.[112] The Queen also transforms into a pixie, named Fogliolina, in "Snow White and Easter in the Woods" (Biancaneve e la Pasqua nel bosco),[113] where, after her attempt to kill Snow White with magic is foiled by woodland creatures, she is so enraged that she calls upon the infernal powers to "take her" and her castle burns into flames and collapses around her. In 1963's "The Seven Dwarfs and the Wolf's Cliff" (I Sette Nani e la balza del lupo),[114] she sends three of her bandit minions to kidnap Snow White. 1964's "Snow White and the Bewitched Dress" (Biancaneve e l'abito stregato)[115] has the Queen magically disguise herself as an old gypsy to give Snow White a cursed dress and capture her, then start her work on the spell to rid of the dwarfs and all the forest creatures, but Dopey infiltrates her castle and frees Snow White, and also locks up the Queen in her laboratory set ablaze, after which the whole castle is consumed by fire and explodes.

The Queen also appears in the 2005 Disney manga series Kilala Princess, where the protagonists Rei and Kilala Reno find themselves in the world of Snow White, and meet and befriend the princess. They go the Queen's castle to ask the Magic Mirror how to find Kilala's friend Erika, but discover the Queen is still alive (and even commanding the two vultures) as she appears and demands Kilala's magical tiara. They try to flee but are attacked by wolves and locked up in the dungeon. The Queen transforms into the Witch and prepares to turn Kilala into an ugly creature. Snow White appears and agrees to sacrifice herself to save them, but Kilala stops her at last moment before she can eat a poison apple. Rei then attacks the Queen, who falls into the cauldron, turns into a vulture, and flies away.

Film and television[edit]

The Queen is featured in some Disney television specials like Our Unsung Villains (1956) and Disney's Greatest Villains (1977). Segments of the Queen's appearance are also shown in Disney's Halloween Treat (1982) and in A Disney Halloween (1983). She makes small cameo appearances in the animated series Disney's House of Mouse, voiced by Susan Blakeslee (where she is seen sitting with Lady Tremaine in her queen form, and with Madam Mim and Witch Hazel in her witch form) and in the films Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Runaway Brain (1995), shown there in her witch form.

In the live-action television special Disney's Golden Anniversary of Snow White (1987), the Queen is played by Jane Curtin in a parodic scenario.[116] She casts a spell on Grumpy in an attempt to get him to persuade the other Dwarfs to retire and destroy the original film after the 50 years. After the failure of this, her Mirror convinces her to finally quit "this whole curse business" and focus on her current career as a television horror host.

The Queen (voiced by Susanne Blakeslee) is the main villain in the 2005 direct-to-video animated film Once Upon a Halloween, but appears only in the Witch version despite misleading cover art (furthermore, only her shadow is shown). In it, the Queen plots to conquer Halloween and asks her cauldron to show several villains to which one of them helps her in her plan. The cauldron also explains its origins as it is one of the cauldrons formerly owned by the three witches from The Black Cauldron. Eventually, the cauldron turns against the Wicked Queen and makes her vanish.

In Mike Disa's and Evan Spiliotopoulos' abandoned pitch for the DisneyToons' Snow White prequel film The Seven Dwarfs, a beautiful girl named Narcissa appears to aid the dwarfs against an evil wizard, who would be eventually revealed as her father whom she would betray and trap him inside a mirror. Narcissa steals the ancient magic secrets of the Olden Dwarfs, marries and then murders Snow White's father, and "begins her reign as the Evil Queen, with the damned soul of her own father forever encased in the Magic Mirror as her slave. Thus, the dwarfs must live in hiding to protect their families from the Queens vengeance." Three computer-animated sequels to The Seven Dwarfs "were to follow the title characters return home to families and friends after the Evil Queen's death in Snow White."[117]

Theatrical shows[edit]

The Queen with her magic cauldron during Fantasmic! show in 2013

As in the film, the Queen character is featured in 1979 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs musical version, played by Anne Francine.[118] In the Disney on Ice reenactment of the movie in 1986-1987,[119] and then in 1994–1997 and again in 2000–2001, she was voiced by Louise Chamis and played by various skaters beginning with Melanie Scott in 1986-1987,[120][121] and including Elena Koteneva, who was substituted by Davina Lee-Gooding in 1995.[122] Francine also played her in the 1980 stage play and television program Snow White Live[123] and Chamis voiced her in Disneyland's Snow White – An Enchanting Musical in 2004 and 2006. The evil Queen was also featured in Disney Live's Three Classic Fairy Tales in the section based on the film.[124][125]

In the night-time fireworks and visual hydrotechnic show Fantasmic!, first played in 1992, the Queen, voiced by Louise Chamis, is the main villain and the leader of all the Disney Villains. She is introduced in the second act, when her Magic Mirror (voiced by Tony Jay) tells her that there are now three princesses (Snow White, Ariel and Belle) fairer than her. Enraged, the Queen transforms herself into a hag[126] and uses the Mirror and her cauldron to summon various "all the forces of evil"[127] in the form of a collection of Disney villains to come to her aid. They include Maleficent, who transforms into a dragon. (In the Tokyo DisneySea version, she also traps Mickey inside her mirror.) At the climax of the show, Mickey is able to defeat the dragon and vanquish all the villains with a magic sword. The Witch is the last to die, transforming back into the Queen before she is destroyed.

In the Disney Dream cruise ship show Villains Tonight!, first played in 2010, Hades calls forth Disney's most powerful villains for help to regain his evil. The Queen, changing from the Witch form, denies his invitation since Hades also invited Maleficent, her rival for Hades' affections and for the status of "the most evil in the land". The Queen claims not to be Hades' girlfriend, but they just had "an interesting weekend" on Castaway Cay. In the end, the Queen and Maleficent put their differences aside as all villains should stick together and advise Hades to find evil within himself, and not from others.

Video games[edit]

The Queen is also one of the four Disney Villains that appear in 1999's Disney's Villains' Revenge, voiced by Louise Chamis. Jiminy Cricket and the player venture into the worlds of the stories to restore the happy endings. In the altered (and game's final) story, where there is no Prince, the Queen (appearing in both of her forms) has built a lair resembling her poisoned apple inside the scary wood, and has put Snow White to eternal sleep in her dungeon and intends to do the same to the Seven Dwarfs. The player needs to correctly mix ingredients for several potions including the True Love Potion to magically summon the Prince and save the day. It is followed by the fight with the Queen where she tries to get away and the player has to reflect her magic ball spells, until she retreats to her lair. There, while asking her mirror, she suddenly transforms into a hag and the mirror breaks.

In 2010's Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, the Queen (voiced by Kyoko Satomi in Japanese and Susan Blakeslee in English) appears in the Dwarf Woodlands world. She recruits the protagonist Terra to kill Snow White and bring back her heart in return for allowing him to use the Magic Mirror to locate Master Xehanort. Terra, like the huntsman, ultimately does not go through with this, and the Queen, learning of his betrayal, forces the Mirror to consume him, but Terra manages to fight the Mirror off and the Queen reluctantly gives him the information he looks for. She later appears briefly in Ventus's scenario, where she crosses paths with him on her way to poison Snow White. She drops the poisoned apple, which Ventus returns to her. She notices Ventus's Keyblade and muses that Terra threatened her with a similar weapon. She is then only briefly mentioned in Aqua's storyline, when the Magic Mirror tells Aqua that the Queen is dead and he is no longer under her control.

In 2013's free-to-play mobile game Snow White: Queen's Return (also known as Seven Dwarfs: The Queen's Return),[128] an uncanonical continuation of the film, the Queen has survived the fall at the climax of the film because there was a lake at the bottom of the abbyss. She then reverted to her youthful form and, seeking revenge, cast an evil curse on Snow White as well as the dwarfs and their entire forest.[129] The game's updates were supposed to allow the players to "meet (and defeat)" the Queen,[130] adding quests involving a search for her hideout[131][132] to "help the Dwarfs rid the enchanted forest of the evil queen,"[133] but the story was ultimately left unresolved as the game was discontinued in May 2014.

A 2014 weekly challenge in Disney Infinity: Toy Box included "Mirror Mirror" weekly challenge obstacle course that pit Snow White against the Evil Queen in a race for the poisonous apple.[134] Downloadable Queen-themed avatar costumes were made available for the users of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles.[135][136] A webcam browser game Become Your Inner Villain hosted on Disneyland Resort’s Facebook page enables the player turn into one of four villains including the Evil Queen.[137] Her dungeon and laboratory (complete with the Mirror) are featured in the online game Aaah-Choo.[138]


The character was also featured in a wide variety of Disney merchandise, such as in the Designer Villains "stylized and fashion-forward" series of limited edition dolls and make-up products,[139] or the Wickedly Beautiful entry in the Beautifully Disney collection of cosmetic products.[140] Various other such merchandise include many dolls,[141] figurines/statuettes,[142] costumes,[143] clothing items,[144] watches/clocks/mirrors,[145] key chains/blanks,[146] mugs,[147] other tableware,[148] bags/purses/suitcases,[149] containers,[150] prints/posters/cards/stickers,[151] pins/buttons/magnets,[152] holiday ornaments,[153] plush toys,[154] traditional games,[155] other beauty products,[156] and so forth.[157] One hand-made figurine costing $2,000 was the most expensive out of 200,000 items being sold at the Disney World shopping village in 1985.[158]

Alternative versions[edit]

Once Upon a Time[edit]

Lana Parrilla in 2012

An almost entirely alternate take on the character of the Evil Queen is Regina Mills, the main antagonist in the first season of the 2011 Disney (ABC) live-action TV series Once Upon a Time where she is played by Lana Parrilla. Regina is the mayor of the idyllic town of Storybrooke, Maine, but is secretly the Evil Queen of legend, having cursed many beloved fairytale characters to live in a land without magic, where they will never get their happy endings. The show is not directly based on the Disney animated films, but is inspired by them and makes many references to them. One of its episodes is titled "The Evil Queen".


In a 2015 Disney Channel Original Movie titled Descendants, the Evil Queen (played by Kathy Najimy[159]) is among a host of other villains who have been imprisoned on a forbidden Isle of the Lost,[160] and her daughter Evie (played by Sofia Carson)[161] is among their offspring who are allowed to return into the kingdom to attend school alongside the offspring of iconic Disney heroes. The Evil Queen is portrayed as Maleficent's closest confident and best friend. Its title image features the iconic red apple of the Evil Queen,[162][163] which was also prominently featured in a teaser trailer.[164]

Melissa de la Cruz wrote the film's prequel novel Isle of the Lost.[165] In that book, it is revealed that the Evil Queen once tried to overthrow Maleficent as the ruler of the Isle.


The image of the wicked Queen (initially conceived as a raven-haired glamour girl, and the epitome of late-1930s sophistication) who drinks an aging potion and then shrivels, sprouting warts and claws, turning before our eyes from a sexy, voluptous creature into a freightening old crone, must leave as powerful an impression on the audience as Snow White's chirpy feminity.

Janet Maslin[166]

The Disney version of the character was very well received by film critics. Stephen Hunter included her being "cool" among the "wonderful truths about Snow White."[167] Janet Maslin wrote the film's Snow White "exists only to be victimized by her wicked stepmother - a far more interesting character."[166] Roger Ebert wrote Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was "not so much about Snow White as it was about the Seven Dwarfs and the Evil Queen," opining this was the reason it has remained "the ultimate animated masterpiece" by 2001 instead of having been forgotten soon after its premiere in 1937.[168]

Feminism academic Camille Paglia said that she used to be transfixed by this "temperamental diva bitch", due to the contrast with the ideal of womanhood that she had been presented to as a child: "Mary, this silent mother; and here was the witch queen who has this weird dialogue in the mirror and it didn't have to be charitable and it didn't have to be nice. I thought she was fabulous."[169] Likewise, Lana Parrilla, who later herself played the Evil Queen in Once Upon A Time, said that whenever she watched Disney's Snow White as a young girl she rooted for and "loved the evil queen—every time the evil queen came on, I was like 'OK!' She was just so fascinating to me."[170] Author Deborah Lipp wrote: "As I've said before and will doubtless say again, given a choice of being Snow White (helpless, sweet, voiceless) and the Wicked Queen, with the cool castle and the magic and the minions, give me my Magic Mirror now!"[171] Film director John Waters said he too rooted for the evil queen to win,[172] and Chay Yew said that if he were a Disney character, he would be the evil queen from Snow White.[173]

Once Upon the Time co-creator Adam Horowitz said that his earliest Disney memory was seeing a re-release of Disney's Snow White when he was "terrified by the Evil Queen while also being unable to look away and that stuck with me through the years."[174] Similarly, fashion designer and Angelina Jolie's Maleficent collaborator Stella McCartney said: "My favorite Disney film was Snow White. I remember growing up watching [it] and being completely freaked out by that scene where the evil queen becomes the old witch and she makes the poison apple."[175] Film maker and actor Terry Gilliam listed the film's Queen among his eight favourite villains, commenting how "truly strange" is that "vanity and beauty are what she's all about, yet the identity she assumes when she becomes the old beggar woman is practically the ugliest in all the kingdom."[176] Fairy tale lecturer Jack Zipes alike noted that "it is somewhat strange that the queen believes the mirror, for the picture of Snow White reveals that she is a pretty pubescent red-cheeked ordinary girl while the queen is a stunning beautiful mature woman who might easily win a beauty contest."[31]

Jim Lentz, Director of Animation Art at Heritage Auctions, said in 2015: "The Evil Queen is, to this day, one of the great villains of cinema, and she was at her terrifying best when she became the Old Hag and set off to destroy Snow White."[177] According to film maker and actor Brad Bird, back in 1937 "they had to re-upholster the seats in a very large movie palace in New York because little kids were peeing on the seats when the witch came on in Snow White."[178] The Queen ranked as tenth in the American Film Institute's 2003 list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time, being the highest-ranked animated villain.[179] When Walt Disney Parks and Resorts held their 2011 Disney Villains popularity poll for Wicked Gooey Apple Awards (named after the Queen's poison apple), the Evil Queen came first and won in three out of five categories: "Sinister Stylings" (for the most fashionable villain), "Curses! Foiled Again!" (for the villain who received the best comeuppance), and the ultimate "Unfairest of Them All" (for the most evil villain).[180] In 2013, Digital Spy included her among the 20 terrifying kids' movie characters, commenting that "Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron may have taken a stab at this role in two competing 2012 blockbusters, but they didn't get anywhere near the kind of creepiness of Disney's evil Queen,"[181] and ranked her as the ninth top Disney animated villain and the fifth greatest female movie villain of all time;[182][183] Nerdist ranked the Disney Villainesses "starting in 1937 with the Evil Queen" at top spot in a 2015 ranking of "most bad ass" female villains in pop culture.[184]

Cultural impact[edit]

French model and TV host Solweig Rediger-Lizlow dressed as the Queen at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival

According to Maria Tatar, an academic specializing in children's literature, the film turned "the evil queen into a figure of gripping narrative energy and makes Snow White [the character] so dull that she requires a supporting cast of seven to enliven her scenes. Ultimately it is the stepmother's disruptive, disturbing, and divisive presence that invests the film with a degree of fascination that has facilitated its widespread circulation and that has allowed it to take such powerful hold in our own culture."[185]


Alan Charles Kors and Edward Peter credited the Queen's character's influence in changing the popular visual image of witches in film and other fiction as specifically female, more often young and attractive than old and ugly, and dressed in a characteristically defining costume.[186] A part of Maila Nurmi's inspiration for her character of Vampira came from Nurmi being fascinated by the Queen after watching Disney's Snow White at the age of 14.[187] Brigitte Nielsen said she has also based her role as the Black Witch (who also kidnaps a prince character out of jealously for a princess) in the 1992 Italian film Fantaghirò 2 on that version of the Queen.[188] When she was cast for the 1939's The Wizard of Oz as the Wicked Witch of the West, Gale Sondergaard insisted on a glamorous vision of the character, similar to the Disney's interpretation of the Queen from Snow White; when Sondergaard's idea was rejected by producers Mervyn LeRoy and Arthur Freed in favor of making the Wicked Witch ugly, she withdrew from the project and Margaret Hamilton was cast instead.[23]

The Queen's character design from the film was also used in some other Snow White adaptations, such as the Turkish film Pamuk Prenses ve Yedi Cüceler (1970),[189] as well as for the inspired main antagonist characters in the otherwise unrelated titles, such as the Witch Queen in the Spanish film Tom Thumb and Little Red Riding Hood (1962),[190] Queen Admira in the American film The Hugga Bunch (1985),[191] the Witch Queen in the video game series Cauldron (1985),[192] and the queen of the witches in the video game Curse of Enchantia (1992). Lady Macbeth in Orson Welles' 1948 Macbeth resembles the Queen in her costume, make-up, and even the manner of her death;[193] Lady Macbeth was also visually based on the Queen in a 1982 comic book adaptation.[194] The evil Queen Bavmorda from 1988's film Willow bears a resemblance too.[195] Cinefantastique editor Frederick S. Clarke described her as "simply Snow White's Wicked Queen, right down to her hooded costume."[196]

In the 1990 video game Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, an old witch named Mizrabel takes form based on the Evil Queen after draining the youth from Minnie Mouse. In 2012's Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, the previously defeated Mizrabel returns to transform into various Disney villains, including the Queen,[197] before setting on Maleficent. In 2013's HD remake of Castle of Illusion, Mizrabel looks like a cross between the Queen and Maleficent in her youthful form and professes her ambition to be "the fairest of them all". Four wicked witches of the East, West, North and South, all serving the evil Ogre King and resembling the Witch from Disney's Snow White, were previously also the villains Mickey had to kill to save Disneyland in 1988's Mickey Mouse: The Computer Game.[198] Robin Wood has also drawn a connection between the looks of the Witch and of the Emperor in the Star Wars franchise.[199]

An official blog Oh My Disney stated the Evil Queen has been "the original Disney villain, and we’re really not exaggerating."[200] Susan Sarandon's character of Queen Narissa in Disney's own Enchanted (2007), had later her characteristics, powers, and physical features were inspired by the Queen from the film and by Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.[201] Early on into the project, Enchanted was actually supposed to be a direct-to-video animated sequel to Disney's Snow White (with a working title of "Snow White 2") in which Narissa (back then often misspelled as "Noriss") was the evil Queen's sister who would kidnap six of the dwarfs to lure Snow White, the Prince, and their 13-year-old daughter Rose aided by Dopey, into a trap.[202] When Filmation announced their own animated sequel, the studio was sued by Disney until Filmation promised their characters would not resemble the ones from the Disney film; the settlement stated there could not be a "wicked witch" character in the film which instead was made to feature the Queen's brother in a vendetta to avenge her death (the title was also changed, from Snow White in the Land of Doom to Happily Ever After).[203][204][205] The first names for the magic-wielding antagonist couple The Glooms in Disney XD's own series The 7D (2014) — set in a timeframe before the Seven Dwarfs first met Snow White — might have been inspired by the Evil Queen character's alternate name "Grimhilde", with the bumbling warlock husband named "Grim" and the determined witch wife named "Hildy".


The "Disney Villainess Squad" cosplayers at WonderCon 2010

The character has also made several parodic cameo and homage appearances in non-Disney media. In Woody Allen's live-action film Annie Hall (1977), Alvy mentions that when he saw Disney's Snow White, he was attracted to the Queen while all the other children had a crush on Snow White. This is followed by an animated sequence of the Wicked Queen, resembling Annie and voiced by Diane Keaton, talking to the cartoon version of the daydreaming Alvy, but turns out that even the Queen scolds him; Alvy attributes it to her having her period mood, to which the Queen reminds him she is just a cartoon character.[206] In The Simpsons episode "Four Great Women and a Manicure" (2009), the Queen escapes the dwarves after poisoning Snow White, only to be lynched by a mob of angry woodland creatures.[207] In the U.S. Acres two-part cartoon "Snow Wade and the 77 Dwarves", Lanolin appears as the Wicked Queen with a costume is based off the Disney version. In the Family Guy 2009 episode "Road to the Multiverse", Herbert appears as the disguised Queen. The Muppet Show character Miss Piggy is the Queen in the 2010 parody comic book miniseries Muppet Snow White.[208] Cassie Scerbo played the Evil Queen in the 2013 YouTube parody music video Cell Block Tango.[209] The Queen also appeared in Counting Scars, Oh My Disney's Halloween 2014 parody music video of OneRepublic's "Counting Stars".[210][211][212][213]

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External links[edit]